I've been combing through their library on HDtracks and I really like a lot of what they put out. The band Radar was the first one I heard, really fantastic sound. Clear, separate instruments. Really funky jazz. Has anyone else heard either this band or others off of the label?
I have a ton of Tzadik stuff. (And a lot of it is really nice-sounding!) I haven't heard Radar, and they are proving difficult to google... radar, no. Radar band, no. Radar music band, amazingly still no... LOL. File under "what not to name your band," I guess! (I did find it eventually, listening to samples now...)
You can't really pin Tzadik down genre-wise, I have very wide-ranging tastes so it doesn't bother me. But they are not a "jazz label" or anything like that. Lots of jazz, but also avant garde and contemporary classical and metal(ish) and world music and klezmer and etc... they're all over the map.
Off the top of my head, some of my favorite Tzadik stuff:
Bar Kokhba Sextet (their live album on Tzadik is one of my all-time faves, but sound is not perfect... studio album "Lucifer" has great sound)
The Dreamers - all their albums have really beautiful sound and they have some fancy vinyl releases, too. Ipos and their debut self-titled album are my faves.
Some of the John Zorn Filmworks albums - Belle de Nature, The Nobel Prizewinner, El General
The Cracow Klezmer Band - love them... "De Profundis" is my favorite
Book of Angels series is amazing... favorites are Malphas, Volac, Xaphan, the aforementioned Lucifer, Haborym, Stolas (that's a great one if you like fairly straight-ahead jazz). I had one of my defining audiophile moments listening to Xaphan some years ago...
Richard Crandell - Spring Steel ... this one is amazing to listen to on good headphones. Not everyone's idea of a fun listen but I find it very beautiful and meditative.
I pre-ordered via Kickstarter Zion80's debut album which is coming out in April. Seen them in concert four times, excited to hear their album.
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I didn't mean to imply that Tzadik was a one-genre pony, sorry about that.
I remember some of those names coming up, I was clicking on a lot of things though so I don't really have the music pinned to the artist name yet. I tried a few of the klezmer cds; it seems like a style of music I have to be in the mood to listen to. Mostly I looked for japanese names and tried those, as several use traditional japanese instruments in interesting new arrangements. There were a few I found that I thought were pretty good, and a few that seemed as though they were not for me, or would require more time to get to know.
I'll have to listen to Xaphan and Crandell when I get home from work, my interest in piqued.
(I'm going to have to update that soundcard now I think, with all this new music coming in. On board w/amp seems like a disservice.)
I said that mainly for any thread passersby, so they'd know I wasn't recommending all jazz albums if they wanted to dip their toe in...
Xaphan is really a cool album, lots of energy and pretty wild. I've seen them perform it a couple of times, just amazing. Some Middle Eastern sounding instruments mixed in with Western style stuff. It's demanding of your headphones and that was the last day I let myself listen to crap earphones. I was walking down the street and had this mini-freakout moment where my brain wasn't recognizing it as music any more because it sounded so confused and bad on the $10 'phones I had on. I actually stopped, took my earphones off and looked at them, put them back on and tried again. Checked the plug. No, they weren't broken, they just sucked. Got some Shures to wear on my commute. Never looked back! Now I walk around with UE700s...
Malphas was the album that turned me on to avant classical music. I picked it up semi-randomly in the store back when we still had big music stores that stocked stuff like that. "Oh, piano and violin, that sounds nice." Totally blew me away. I've seen them perform the material live on many occasions and it's so incredible. I think the most stunning piano solo I've ever seen (the pianist's name is Sylvie Courvoisier, she has lots of stuff on Tzadik). It's been years and I still remember that solo. The album is difficult in parts, but so rewarding...